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Roasted Butternut Squash

With a name like “butternut” squash, you have to know you’re getting something good. Butternut squash is a rich and satisfying vegetable that’s surprisingly low in fat and calories. It’s related to pumpkins, spaghetti squash, and acorn squash, and any other vegetable that’s part of the winter squash family. Personally, I always found the name “winter squash” to be a bit confusing because these vegetables are typically grown during summer and harvested in the fall. It turns out that the name refers to the fact that they store well for months (thanks to their thick skins), so they can last through the winter. Now it all makes sense!

Not only is butternut squash a most beautiful shade of orange, but it’s healthy to boot. One cup of butternut squash provides almost four times your vitamin A needs for the day, and provides more potassium than a banana! Butternut squash is also a good source of vitamin C, manganese, fiber, and antioxidants.

When selecting a butternut squash, look for one that’s heavy for its size. It should be firm, and it’s skin should be free of blemishes and bruises. When you’re preparing butternut squash, I find it easiest to start by cutting off the stem and the base. You can stand the squash on it’s ends and peel it with a knife, or if you’re worried about it slipping, a vegetable peeler is always a safe bet. After cutting the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and fibrous flesh out of the middle before roasting.

To get the best results, spread the pieces of squash in a single layer on a baking sheet. By giving each piece a bit of breathing room, it’ll help them cook evenly and crisp up as much as possible. We topped ours with fresh thyme, but you could use rosemary, oregano, or even spices like cumin or paprika.

Roasted butternut squash makes a delicious fall and winter side dish for lean protein, try it atop a bed of greens for a hearty salad, or add it to soups. Eat it in place of baked sweet potatoes, roasted pumpkin, or any starch vegetable.

Tip: While most people discard the seeds, they’re actually edible! You can roast them just like pumpkin seeds, adding salt, pepper, and other dried herbs or spices.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Total Time: 55 min. Prep Time: 10 min. Cooking Time: 45 min. Yield: 8 servings, about ½ cup each

Ingredients: 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1½-inch pieces (about 2 lbs.) 4 tsp. olive oil ½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt) ½ tsp. ground black pepper 2 Tbsp. finely chopped thyme

Preparation: 1. Preheat oven to 450° F. 2. Place squash in large oven-proof roasting pan (or baking sheet). 3. Drizzle with oil. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme; mix well. Spread squash in a single layer in pan. 4. Bake, turning twice, for 40 to 45 minutes, or until squash is brown and tender-crisp.

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